A new study has discovered that people who turn red or have facial blotches when they drink alcohol are more likely to suffer from alcohol related high blood pressure.
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This can be a major cause of heart attacks, strokes and can also put strain on blood vessels. The research, which was conducted in South Korea, found that people who became flush in the face after drinking just a few units of booze were more likely to suffer from this condition.
This is because of something called acetaldehyde, a toxin produced by alcohol, which the liver breaks down. If you happen to go red in the face, it probably means that your body is breaking down the compound more slowly, meaning that it will stay in the system for longer and therefore cause more damage.
Dr Jong Sung Kim of the Chungnam National University School of Medicine said:
Facial flushing after drinking is always considered as a symptom of high alcohol sensitivity or even intolerance to alcohol, unless a patient is taking special medicine.
The facial flushing response to drinking usually occurs in a person who cannot genetically break down acetaldehyde.
To my knowledge, there has been no detailed research that has analysed the relationship between drinking and hypertension while considering individual responses to alcohol.
The study looked at 1,763 Korean men with a variety of drinking habits – 527 suffered from flushes, 948 didn’t suffer from flushes and 288 were non-drinkers. They discovered that flushers were more likely to suffer from the problem when they consumed more than four alcoholic drinks per week (which isn’t hard).
After adjusting for age, body mass index, exercise status, and smoking status, the risk of hypertension was significantly increased when flushers consumed more than four drinks per week.
In contrast, in non-flushers, the risk increased with consuming more than eight drinks per week.
So basically the study is saying that you’re more likely to suffer from alcohol related hypertension if you’re a flusher, but you’re still at risk if you’re a non-flusher too, just a little bit less. The safest option is to just cut down on the booze, but sometimes that’s easier said than done.
For a completely different kind of study, check out this one that says the smartest people are the heaviest drinkers.